Health is strongly influenced by social factors. The COVID-19 pandemic posed an opportunity to pilot game-based learning online to help students understand and apply knowledge of the social determinants of health (SDOH). The aim of the study was to describe an online game-based approach to learning about SDOH in undergraduate teaching and evaluate the outcomes of the learning activity.
Medical students posted to National Healthcare Group Polyclinics completed an online module on the SDOH. The first part comprised reference articles and a set of slides on SDOH. Students would subsequently be assigned to complete a gamebook comprising 2 clinical scenarios to apply the knowledge gained. Students completed an 8-question pre-and post-module questionnaire as well as a feedback form at the end of the module.
43 students completed the online learning module. Mean assignment scores increased from 5.10 (95% CI: 4.71 – 5.49) to 6.98 (95% CI: 6.64 – 7.31) at the end of the learning module (p<0.0001). 93% of students agreed that the gamebook was interesting and fun. 93% of students agreed the gamebook helped them understand how SDOH were applicable to clinical practice. Another student requested for more cases. Others felt the reading material could have been reduced
Students demonstrated increased knowledge of SDOH through an asynchronous game-based learning approach. Student receptivity to this approach was high and verbatim feedback provided the team with areas for further improvement. Future studies could incorporate higher fidelity game interfaces to see if improved user experiences could improve learning.